Day of the Seafarer 2021: Setting a ‘fair future’ for seafarers: DoT-SAMSA

Pretoria: 24 June 2021

For no less than three hours early on Friday, June 25, South Africa’s role and contribution in the shaping of a fair future for seafarers locally and globally will come under the microscope as some of the country’s stakeholders and interested parties in the general wellbeing of these highly skilled yet generally overlooked oceans-based workers gather to mark the International Day of the Seafarer 2021, under the guidance and leadership of the Department of Transport.

The marking of Day of the Seafarer 2021 takes the shape of an online event – for the second year running, owing to the ongoing rampant spread of the Covid-19 pandemic – hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) from its Pretoria-based Head Ofice on Friday morning.

Starting from 9am and scheduled to last until 12 noon, high profile participants on the programme, according to SAMSA, include Transport Minister Mr Fikile Mbalula and his deputy, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, the department’s Acting Director for Maritime Branch Mr Mthunzi Madiya, Ms Soraya Artman of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Mr Musa Mbakaza of AMSOL, Ms Silindokuhle Nyoka of Transnet, and Captain Mike Kelly representing The Mission of Seafarers Association, as well as SAMSA acting CEO Ms Tsepiso Taoana Mashiloane and Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe

Also participating and sharing an international perspective will be Mr Cheah Aun Aun from the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore.

The theme of the 2021 instalment of the Day of the Seafarer as decided by the International Maritime Organisation is a “Fair Future for Seafarers” – the idea behind it being a continued effort to rally individual maritime country as well as international support for measures to improve and enhance the working conditions as well as the general welfare of seafarers globally.

In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders earlier this month, SAMSA said: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.

“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,”

At Friday’s event, with just 100 confirmed attendees, expected to dominate the marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 are activities and related measures being undertaken by particularly the Department of Transport, its agency SAMSA, as well as industry to advance this cause, this especially against unique challenges by seafarers due to the onset and continued international havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic since its outbreak in China in late 2019

According to SAMSA, the online event will again be livestreamed on the SAMSA Facebook in order to allow the public access. To connect, please click on the link following link: https://fb.me/e/1UMv7h5fr

This blog will also follow proceedings of the event.

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A ‘fair future for seafarers’ is the campaign theme of international Day of the Seafarer 2021: SAMSA/Department of Transport.

Pretoria: 10 June 2021

A ‘fair future’ for seafarers globally should be a shared responsibility between seafarers and the rest of other relevant stakeholders – and that is the view of seafarers themselves according to a current poll being conducted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

This global seafarers’ view is emerging solidly a few weeks ahead of this year’s international marking of the Day of the Seafarer on June 25 (a Friday) as driven and directed by the IMO along with its Member States, including South Africa.

In the poll currently being conducted by the IMO on its social media pages, among seafarers who responded to a question: “Who should be responsible for a fair future for seafarers”; an overwhelming majority (54%) call it a “shared responsibility”.

Against the backdrop, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) working jointly with the Department of Transport has confirmed that its marking of the Day of the Seafarer this year would be closely aligned to the issue, consistent with the IMO’s theme for the celebrations on June 25.

In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders this week, SAMSA states that: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.

“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,” says SAMSA.

Among issues likely to feature prominently at the event on June 25 may be the outcomes and insights of a recent South African seafarers survey conducted by University of KwaZulu-Natal academic and author, Dr Shaun Ruggunan focused on their personal experiences of the impacts of Covid-19 over the last year.

Dr Ruggunan’s survey supported by SAMSA was conducted from March to end of May this year and its results are currently being collated and studied.

From a Government perspective, notably the UKZN survey took place shortly after South Africa in February 2021 joined other IMO Member States in declaring seafarers as ‘essential workers’ – a recurrent theme in the industry globally in 2020 since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in China in 2019, and which campaign gained huge support from many organisations worldwide, among them the United Nations.

However, the declaration of seafarers as essential workers earlier this year, even as singularly highly significant, was but one aspect of a basket of sought industry reforms with regards seafarers’ general welfare and work conditions, and some of which continue to be highlighted in a series of regional webinars driven by IMO, its Members States and affiliated organisations.

The first of the IMO regional webinars focused specifically on the question of “Challenges faced by seafarers and identification of best practices during Covid-19 pandemic” was held virtually online for the Eastern and Southern Africa on 21 October 2020, with the lineup of speakers including IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and representatives of UN-OSAA, Stella Maris, ICS as well as Member States: Kenya, South Africa and the Seychelles.

The webinars have since covered Eastern and West Africa, East Asia, Western Asia and Eastern Europe as well as the Arab States and Mediterranean regions and Latin America

Now, in the lead up to this year’s Day of the Seafarer, the IMO also embarked on the social media poll, where it is asking seafarers across the world to respond and share their views on a number of issues affecting their work and general welfare.

On Covid-19 impacts and about which an IMO asks in one of the question: ‘what is most important for you for your future as a seafarer’, most seafarer respondents (41%) believe it be to be “quarantined access to repatriation and crew change”, followed by “priority vaccinations” (24%), “safe working conditions” (19%) and “enforcement” (16%).

On another question about whether seafarers believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the future of seafaring and in what direction, the majority seafarers’ view (73%) is that the pandemic has, and for the “worse” while only 15% believe it has done their trade a world of good, and 13% saying it has made no difference.

On the question of the IMO’s campaign in 2021 for a “fair future for seafarers”; 54% of participants feel it has to be a “shared responsibility” with only three (03) percent saying seafarers should be directly and solely in charge, while the rest are split unevenly between a view that it should be “IMO/ILO/Governments” (31%) and that it should be “shipping companies” (12%).

Among the seven questions posed to seafarers by the IMO so far is also one about “what area most needs improvement to ensure a fair future for seafarers” and to which the majority view (46%) suggests it to be “the workplace”, followed by “salaries” (30%), “training” (13%0 and “safety on board” (12%).

On the gradual encroachment of autonomous ships, according to their responses, most seafarers are either “excited” (25%), “unconcerned” (22%) or “accepting” (14%), with only 36% expressing the view that they are “worried”.

On climate change; most (59%) say they are onboard with mitigation efforts while seven (7%) and five (5) say they either could not be bothered (“not my personal responsibility”) or regard it as “unimportant”.

In explaining the seafarers view poll on its social media platforms, the IMO says: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions surrounding uncertainties and difficulties around port access, re-supply, crew changeovers, repatriation, etc.

“In light of this, the 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes. The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. The campaign will discuss issues that will still be relevant to seafarers after the pandemic, such as fair treatment of seafarers, fair working conditions (in line with ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention), fair training, fair safety, etc.”

For more on this, please on click on the IMO General Secretary, Mr. Kitack Lim ‘s official message for Day of the Seafarer 2021 below.

Meanwhile in Pretoria, according to SAMSA, South Africa’s marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 on Friday, June 25; will be conducted in similar fashion as last year, virtually online, from 9am and ending at 12 noon.

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Three year nurdles mess clean-up draws to an end; SAMSA

However, even with 38 of 49 metric tons of the plastic pellets recovered, monitoring will continue for four more years.

SAMSA

Pretoria: 29 March 2021

With about 38 metric tons of the approximately 49 MT of nurdles that accidentally fell off a cargo ship and into seawaters off the coast of Durban in 2017 now recovered, the three years clean-up operation of approximately 290 kilometres of coastline since launched has officially been brought to an end, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has announced.

According to SAMSA, the decision to end the three year clean-up operation – taken in consultation with various other interested and involved parties including the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF) KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) – was made on the basis that the residue of nurdles lately observed through monitoring of affected areas, had become negligible and therefore no longer justified continued recovery.

In addition, crucially, the high- and low-density polyethylene pellets were not only found to be non-hazardous, but it had also been established that they had not caused any known or reported damage or harm either to the ecology of the heavily affected area nor to living mammals both inland and at sea.

However, according to SAMSA, monitoring of the South African coastline along the KwaZulu-Natal province will continue for four more years and in the event of a resurfacing of enough quantities of the plastic nurdles, if necessary, another recovery operation will be instituted.

The formal official cessation of the clean-up operation, according to SAMSA – the coordinator of the operation – comes after more than 160 bags of the nurdles, measuring some 38.8MT in weight, were successfully recovered over the three-year period since the accidental spillage occurred in the second half of 2017.

The spillage into sea of the millions of small nurdles in 25-kilogram bags drew domestic and global attention after they were ripped off their transportation containers into the Durban harbour during a massive wind that wreaked havoc on ships in the Durban harbour on 10 October 2017.

Two of the lost containers, off the MSC Susana vessel, were loaded with the nurdles cargo. The nurdles involved, regarded as non-biodegradable, were described as small plastic pellets of about five (5) millimetres in diameter, with a flotation density of 0.91-0.97 grams per cubic centimetre (g/cmᵌ).

Shortly after the incident, SAMSA together with the DEFF, the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Transnet, environmental groups including Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, vessel owners, MSC, London based International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd (ITOPF), salvage and emergency group, Resolve Marine; as well as various other parties, launched an extensive and intensive recovery project of the plastic nurdles all along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, but with specific focus on a 290km area of the coast where the pellets found concentration.

The aim of the clean-up operation according to SAMSA, was three-fold (a) to reduce impact on human life, (b) to recover the pellets as quickly as possible (c) and to minimize impact on the environment.

The clean-up operation reliant partly on a scientific modelling to hopefully accurately predict movement of the pellets, would therefore essentially also involve an inspection of almost the entire South African oceans coastline, from Richards Bay through to the Western Cape.

According to SAMSA, the coastline inspection found evidence of nurdles presence in some of the areas, particularly in the Western Cape and some areas of the Eastern Cape. However, the nurdles found here were established to have come mainly from industrial waste discharges rather that from the Durban port ship incident in question. In other areas such as Port St Johns on the Wild Coast, concentrations were very low.

SAMSA says that with concerns also related to ocean currents movements along the Indian Ocean, the pellets might end up polluting the seas along other countries as far as Australia, enquiries were made. But these elicited no clear evidence of such widespread dispersion or leakage over the last three years.

Instead, after both aerial and land inspections, the greatest concentration of the nurdles deposition was found to have occurred largely just north of the Durban port city in an area of coastal high dune concentrations, inshore reefs and beaches as well as river mouths incorporating Addington, Port Dunford, Dokodweni, the Tugela River through to uMhlathuze towards Richards Bay.

SAMSA said final reports of monitoring and recovery by some of its participating partners, the DEFF, the KZZ EDTEA and ITOPF late last year, indicated that “the affected areas have received relatively low levels of recharge of SABIC plastic nurdles and, applying the ‘law of diminishing returns’, all recovery operations on all affected areas to be ceased.”

SAMSA and its partners in the operation would continue to “keep an ear and eye on the ground” for any possibility of nurdles resurfacing, and where deemed necessary, action will be taken to recover them.

Asked what has been done with the recovered 38,8MT of nurdles; SAMSA said these were recycled and used to make park benches dedicated to the late Ms Caroline Reid formerly a secretary of KwaZulu-Natal’s Marine Waste Network. Ms Reid reportedly passed away in July 2018 after being involved a vehicle accident in Durban. She was 41 years old at the time.

Captain Nicholas Stone. Director: Marine Resolve Group

Meanwhile, it has emerged that following to the Durban port nurdles spillage incident, the South African government through the Department of Transport, SAMSA and DEFF is being urged by shipping transport industry players to support a call on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to review shipping containers stowage such as that of plastic nurdles, and where possible, require that such cargo be relocated to the underdeck of cargo spaces of ships.

Parties to the call in South Africa include Resolve Marine whose executive, Mr Nicholas Sloane confirmed his company’s approach to the IMO about the matter.

According to Mr Sloane, prevention of loss at sea of material such as nurdles from ship’s cargo due to sea conditions and related accidents can be achieved with proper, purposeful stowage aboard vessels. This, he says, is necessary also because generally, seafarers manning cargo vessels are not always aware of contents of containers being transhipped.

“With over 3 000 containers lost in the oceans every so often, nurdles are the worst cargo to be lost.” says Mr Sloane.

End.

Even still gripped by a Covid-19 pandemic, African countries forge ahead with climate change mitigation measures – MTCC-Africa/SAMSA

Pretoria: 01 March 2021

Postponed a year ago due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown rules promoting social distancing worldwide, an Africa region maritime sector plan of action aimed at contributing to global measures to mitigate against climate change gets underway again this month in the form of an Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition (ConfEx) over four days.

The ConfEx – originally scheduled for Durban, South Africa in June last year, before being scrapped – is being organised by the Mombasa, Kenya-based Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC-Africa), and this time, it will be held virtually online, announced the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Pretoria at the weekend.

The MTCC-Africa, is an International Maritime Organization (IMO) and European Commission funded initiative known as the Global MTCCs Network (GMN), with centres also in Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and Pacific regions. Initially funded to the tune of €10 000 000 over four years in 2017, it is geared towards building capacity in the targeted regions for climate mitigation in the world’s maritime shipping industry.

The ConfEx to be held over four days in two successive weeks this month, the first on 17&18 March 2021 and thereafter on 24&25 March 2021 will be staged within context of the IMO MARPOL Annex VI that is concerned with the prevention of air pollution by ships.

The IMO MARPOL Annex VI advances implementation of global regulations to address the emission of air pollutants from ships and the mandatory energy efficiency measures aimed at reducing emission of greenhouse gases from international shipping thereby ensuring that shipping is cleaner and greener.

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Representatives of 13 African countries involved with the IMO Global MTCC Network gathered at the first meeting of the MTCC-Africa branch in Mombasa in December 2017.                                (Photo: Courtesy of Global MTCC Network)

South Africa, an IMO Member State and signatory to the MARPOL Annex VI, is a designated Southern African Region Focal Point of the MTCC-Africa, wherein it is expected to support the agency in promoting technologies and operations aimed at improving energy efficiency in the maritime sector. The Southern African Region consists of Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Mr Kitach Lim. Secretary General. International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

A draft programme of the MTCC-Africa ConfEx event shows IMO Secretary General, Mr Kitack Lim and Dr Nancy Karigithu, Principal Secretary of Kenya’s State Department for Maritime Shipping Affairs as being among a host of high level officials scheduled to grace the occasion.

According to SAMSA at the weekend, in addition to experts and related in the field of climate change in the maritime sector, the MTCC-Africa online ConEx will focus also strongly on developers of energy efficient technologies for the maritime industry who will be provided a platform to exhibit their wares.

“The ConfEx is targeting the Small and Medium-Term Entrepreneurs with innovations focusing on climate change mitigation in the onshore and offshore shipping and maritime industry. The objective is to provide a highly interactive knowledge sharing and business networking platform, with the aim of connecting like-minded individuals and innovative solution providers from around the world. In addition to this, technological challenges and opportunities in climate action within the international maritime sector will be addressed. The exhibitors can showcase their market ready technologies and innovations,” said SAMSA.

However, because of social distancing regulations in compliance with Covid-19 mitigation measures, keen participants in both the main conference as well as exhibitors would have to book early online in order to claim their space at the ConfEx, said SAMSA.

The online booking details are:

Of the actual conference, said SAMSA: “With climate change affecting all of us, it makes sense to always encourage more people to participate in such events, for various purposes, educationally, economically and otherwise. It is against this background, that this event is open to all interested parties, to learn and or contribute in climate change mitigation and shipping’s transition to decarbonisation.”

For exhibitors: “The Confex will provide a highly interactive knowledge sharing and business networking platform with an aim of connecting like-minded individuals and innovative solution providers from around the world. In addition to this, technological challenges and opportunities in climate action within the international maritime sector will be addressed. The exhibitors can showcase their market ready technologies and innovations,” said SAMSA

SAMSA further states that this was an ideal opportunity for particularly South African and southern African countries’ entrepreneurs to expand their market reach both in Africa and globally. “Under the UNFCCC Paris Climate Conference, member countries agreed to limit global warming to below two (2) degrees Celsius. Shipping under the guidance of the IMO, must play a role in reducing its contribution to the global emissions. Developing countries, which play a significant role in international shipping, often lack the means to improve energy efficiency in their shipping sectors.

“Through technical assistance and capacity building, the MTCC project is there to enable developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing to effectively implement ship energy-efficiency and emissions reduction measures, thereby ssupporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“South Africa is fully behind MTCC-Africa to ensure that it can deliver on its objectives that include; improving regional compliance with existing and future international regulations on energy efficiency for ships; promoting the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations; and raising awareness on the need to reduce Greenhouse Gas and other emissions from the maritime transport sector

“We urge South Africans and Southern Africans, especially entrepreneurs and innovators to take the opportunity presented by the MTCC- Africa and the IMO, of engaging with global counterparts in the development and promotion of energy efficient technologies that can be used by the shipping industry in transitioning to the decarbonised future. It is also an opportunity for many, to learn about the work that the IMO has continually put in place to deliver on the strategic direction entitled “Respond to Climate Change“, as adopted by the IMO Assembly, during its 30th session in December 2017,” said SAMSA

End

Women advancement in SA’s maritime sector on a giant historical leap: SAMSA

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South Africa’s first all female cadets and training officers team before sailing out in Cape Town on 27 December 2019 for a three months research and training sojourn into the Indian and Southern Oceans including Antarctica.

Cape Town: 30 December 2019

Women empowerment in South Africa’s maritime sector took on yet another relatively small but highly significant and historical step forward at the weekend in Cape Town after the country despatched an all women cadet and training officers’ team on a three months voyage to the southern seas.

The 22 women- two officers and 20 young female cadets sailed from the port of Cape Town on Friday night, headed for Mauritius where they will be joined in 10 days by a group of Indian scientists for their three months sojourn into the Indian Ocean and Antartica region.

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The 20 all female deck and engine cadets in full uniform on board the SA Agulhas a few hours before their historical training sojourn which will end in March 2020

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – owners and operators of the SA Agulhas, the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel – and the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) – the country’s agency for cadet training – the latest of three such training opportunities for the country’s cadets out sea was partly made possible by the out hiring of the SA Agulhas ship to the Indian National Centre for Antarctic Ocean Research (ICAOR).

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The SA Agulhas at the port of Cape Town. Owned and operated by the SA Maritime Safety Authority, the ship is South Africa’s only dedicated national cadet training vessel.

Scientists from the ICAOR will be conducting research of the Indian and Southern Oceans waters over a period of two months through to the end of February 2020. During this period, the all female 18 deck and two engine cadets will receive extensive training and earn crucial sea time to advance them through their studies as future mariners.

SAMSA and SAIMI described the send off of an all female cadet team and all female training officers in Cape Town at the weekend  as the first ever such adventure, deliberately aimed at advancing gender parity in the maritime sector through focused advancement of woman.

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From Left: Mr Ian Calvert, executive head of SAMSA’s Marine Special Services with the master of the SA Agulhas, Captain Reagan Paul in Cape Town on Friday 27 December 2019

Two of the 20 cadets will likely qualify for the Officer of the Watch exam after earning sufficient sea time during this voyage. For several of the cadets, this voyage will be the first time away from home and will be their first ever training opportunity at sea.

SAMSA Acting CEO Mr Sobantu Tilayi emphasized the importance of this particular voyage; “It is important that we use every opportunity we get to open up the maritime industry to all and this voyage is proof that South Africa is on-board with the international drive to empower women and is committed to do away with the notion that the maritime industry is a male dominated industry” said Mr Tilayi.

Mr Ian Calvert, executive head of SAMSA’s Marine Special Services, who was on hand to see off the all female training crew said: “Addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality is the responsibility of all South Africans. Further to this, gender parity in the workspace remains of great concern.

“Today, women signify two percent of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers with 94 percent of female seafarers working in the cruise ship industry. There can be no doubt this is a historically male dominated industry, subsequently there needs to be a concerted effort to help the industry move forward and support women to achieve a representation that is in keeping with 21st century expectations.”

According to Mr Calvert, the historical event send off at the weekend, was not just a uniquely South African initiative that was out of sink with the rest of the world, but a significant contribution to global efforts championed currently by international agencies such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Maritie Organisation (IMO).

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True to a call: (From Left) Ms Cher Klen and Ms Samantha Montes, the SA Agulhas training officers for the 2019-2020 historical all female cadet training voyage that began on Friday 27 December 2019

He said: “Through its Women in Maritime programme, under the slogan: “Training-Visibility-Recognition”,  the IMO has taken a strategic approach towards enhancing the contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders. In spite of this, the benefits of these and other initiatives still need to be fully felt in (South) Africa.

“For this particular voyage as a show of our continued commitment to the achievement of gender equality we have specifically dedicated it to the exposure of women in maritime,” said Mr Calvert

DSC_8091.JPGFurther, he said, the initiative was in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, the African Integrated Maritime Strategy, National Development Plan, Operation Phakisa as well as the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy.

“It is an attempt to address gender empowerment and inequalities specifically in South Africa, in the year that the IMO declared The World Maritime Day theme as “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”.

For Mr Calvert’s remarks on the topic, click on video below.

SA Agulhas Antarctica Voyage 2019: First All Female Training Venture

This blog also chatted with some of the youg female cadets as well as the master of the vessel on this voyage, Captain Reagan Paul, to gain their views and expectations of experience during the next three motnhs. The young cadets, Ms Lona Jiba (Eastern Cape), Ms Puleng Ramasodi and Thabango Ngobeni (both from Gauteng), and Ms Sinethemba Mdlalose (KwaZulu-Natal) were beyond themselves with joy at their first sea voyage and particularly on board the SA Agulhas on its journey to the ice mountains of the Antarctica region.

The blog also heard from one of the onboard training officers, Ms Samantha Montes who’s stated other interest during the voyage would be an observation of the implementation of the Polar Code.

For this and more click on the videos below.

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22 African countries recommit to working together against oil spills; Cape Town.

GI-WACAF CONFERENCE 2019 WRAP UP

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Deliberations on the last day of the GI-WACAF Conference of 22 African countries in Cape Town on Thursday.

Cape Town: 03 November 2019

Oil spills in the world’s oceans remain a dreaded possibility at all times whether through human handling or natural disasters, and preparedness for such eventuality by both industry and governments in concert are the key prerequisites for successful prevention or effective, and efficient management of such spills when they occur.

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Mr Brian Sullivan, Executive Director; IPIECA

It was for that reason that, according to Mr Brian Sullivan, executive director of IPIECA (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association), regional collaboration, cooperation and teamwork between and among countries with coastal access was absolutely critical to oil spills combating anywhere at seas across the world.

This, he told about 100 delegates from 22 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the last day of their four day conference in Cape Town on Thursday, under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) led Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern African (GI-WACAF) Project.

Mr Sullivan’s organisation, IPIECA, established in 1974 with the encouragement of the United Nations Environmental Program, and now with about 65 member companies and organisations, describes itself as ‘the global oil and gas industry association for advancing environmental and social performance..and convenes a significant portion of the oil and gas industry across the value chain, bringing together the expertise of oil and gas companies and associations to develop, share and promote good practice and knowledge.”

IPIECA further describes itself as the oil and gas industry’s ‘principal channel of engagement with the United Nations,’ a position it says enables its members to ‘support the energy transition and contribute to sustainable development.’

IPIECA member companies include BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Shell, Woodside and dozens others.

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Some of the delegates that attended the 8th GI-WACAF Conference in Cape Town a week ago

GI-WACAF on the other hand, launched in 2006, is a regional organisation of 22 African countries on the south, central and north Atlantic Ocean east coast, and was established  to promote and encourage close collaboration between governments and industry to enhance oil spills preparedness, response and cooperation.

The GI-WACAF member countries, among them South Africa, comprise countries among which are signatories to no less than three conventions, such as the Abuja and Benguela Current Conventions – and all of which collaboration and cooperation instruments aspire to similar goals as the GI-WACAF.

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Delegates to the 8th GI-WACAF Conference of 22 African countries in Cape Town from Monday to Thursday last week being taken through a demonstration of an oil spill containment and management.

For all of last week, bar Friday, delegates from the 22 African countries spent considerable time, both in conference at a hotel in Newlands as well as at an oil spill management demonstration site at a lagoon near Cape Town, deliberating over a variety of issues all aimed at strengthening their national systems for preparedness and response in case of an oil spill anywhere in their region.

The intended outcome, according to the IMO and IPIECA, both which directed proceedings of the gathering, would be a further two year agreement on an action plan of defined activities in the period.

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Ms Patricia Charlebois (seated second from Left), an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) taking notes during during a session of the GI-WACAF conference 2019 in Cape Town from Monday, 28 October to Thursday, 31 October.

Split in two groups by language – French and English speaking country groups –  during working groups sessions, such a list of actions proposed to form the two year agreement emerged on Thursday, and would be consolidated and shared among represented countries by the GI-WACAF secretariat in due course.

The issues ranged from legislation, cross boundary co-operation to shoreline waste management and quite a few others.

In closing remarks, Mr Sullivan applauded the participating countries’ demonstrated commitment to the GI-WACAF Project, describing it as encouraging that governments and industry in the region, showed willingness and determination to work closely together in preserving the oceans environment integrity through prevention and combating of oil pollution.

He further noted that the compulsory implementation of lower sulphur oil for ships fuel in January 2020 by the IMO would present its own challenges to shipping and oil industries in general, but expressed confidence that through the established and sustained healthy cooperation and collaboration between industry and governments, the challenges would be overcome.

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Ms Patricia Charlebois. Deputy Director, International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

Both IPIECA and the IMO, the latter through its deputy director, Ms Patricia Charlebois, also expressed gratitude to South Africa, precisely the Department of Transport and its agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) for assistance with the conference.

For both Mr Sullivan and Ms Charlebos’s full closing remarks, Click on the respective videos below.

Meanwhile, in an effort to gain further insight into the IMO and IPIECA driven GI-WACAF Project – one of three across the globe – as well as glean an understanding of its significance to South Africa in particular, this blog charted to SAMSA’s key representative at the conference, Captain Ravi Naicker, For the interview, click on the video below and for his presentation to the conference, the next video.

Supplementary to the above, this blog further obtained a series of interviews with both IMO and various other delegates that attended. These will be uploaded as soon as processed.

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Oil pollution combating strategies at African seas under focus in Cape Town: IMO

DSC_6221.JPGCape Town: 29 October 2019

Consultation and closer collaboration in the implementation of measures to prevent and combat oil pollution at the world’s oceans remains the key to success, delegates to an African regional conference of the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF), heard in Cape Town on Monday.

 The advice was shared by industry chair of the GI-WACAF Project, Mr Rupert Bravery during the opening of the four-day conference, from Monday to Thursday, and during which a further two-year agreement on a regional action plan is hoped to be discussed and endorsed.

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Delegates from 22 African countries attending the 8th Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa Project conference currently underway in Cape Town. The conference started on Monday and ends on Thursday (28-31 October 2019).

As many as 100 delegates from about 22 west, central and southern African countries are attending the bi-annual conference, now in its 13th year, and led by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with hosts, South Africa, via the Department of Transport’s Maritime Directorate as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Countries represented include Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

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This year’s banner of the 8th conference of the GI-WACAF in Cape Town, South Africa from Monday to Thursday (28-31 October 2019)

According to the IMO, the main objectives of the conference are to address the challenges of oil spill preparedness and response in the region, to review the progress achieved since the last regional conference, and to highlight the benefits of the GI WACAF Project.

“The event will also be used to agree on a two-year action plan (2020-2021) to strengthen oil spill preparedness and response in the region. In view of the risks that these pollution events represent for the marine environment, it is paramount to foster cooperation between the countries of the region so that they can respond to oil spills in an effective manner. Cooperation with the local oil industry, a key aspect of the project, is also strongly encouraged,” said the IMO.

It added that the success of the GI-WACAF Project depended heavily on the involvement of the countries themselves.

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Mr Rupert Bravery, Industry Chair: GI-WACAF Project

In his opening address on Monday, Mr Bravery expressed pride and delight in the achievements of the GI-WACAF Project over the last few years, saying that consultation and collaboration, along with adaptability in response to changing needs of individual countries in the group were the hallmark of the success being achieved. For his full remarks click on the video below.

In her welcoming remarks, Ms Patricia Charlebois, deputy director of the IMO highlighted a number of achievements that were being made in efforts to combat oil pollution globally. Among these was the issue of compensation for countries affected by oil pollution, improving cooperation and collaboration between industry and institutions such as the IMO, as well as an encouraging increase in the number of women now visible in country representations such as GI-WACAF conference in Cape Town. For her full remarks, Click on the video below:

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula; Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa was delighted to be the host of the conference as it would help enhance its own learning and state of preparedness for oil spills prevention and combating at a time when oil and gas exploration in the country’s coastline was increasing and other economic activities such as bunkering were taking shape.

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Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane. Director Maritime Industry; Department of Transport

Ms Taoana-Mashiloane said South Africa had embarked on an initiative called Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) intended broadly to expand inclusive economic activity at three oceans, inclusive of oil and gas based industries, this in addition to managing increasing ships traffic utilising the southern African corridor for transportation of trade goods between the east and the west.

The expansion in oceans based economic activity was leading to clashes between business, government and environmental groups which she described as unnecessary.

This notwithstanding, the oceans based expanding economic activity  required South Africa to be at the top of its game when it comes preparedness for oceans environmental protection. For her full remarks, click on the video below.

Following to her presentation, this blog chatted to Ms Toaona-Mashiloane for further clarity on some of the issues she raised, inclusive of South Africa’s preparations for the inaugural hosting of the IMO’s World Maritime Day Parallel Event in the coming year.

She described the country as excited and looking forward with great anticipation to hosting the IMO’s biggest annual event in Durban for the first time in October 2020.  Click on the video below for her remarks.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which has worked closely with the IMO over the past few months in preparation for the 8th GI-WACAF conference  in Cape Town, said in addition to contribution to discussions on the planned action plan to be adopted for the next two years, it would be taking advantage also of the several experts in oil pollution combating attending the gathering to milk them for their knowledge while they were still in the country.

SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller said South Africa had experienced a few oil spills and it was to its advantage to draw knowledge and experience from other countries in order to prepare itself effective strategies to prevent and manage oil spillages at sea. For his remarks click on the video below:

There will be more conference news updates on this block in the next couple of days.  Among these will be SAMSA’s Captain Ravi Naicker on the role of the GI-WACAF Project and South Africa’s involvement in it, as well as his presentation to the conference on South Africa’s ‘wish list’ for assistance by member countries.

The blog will try to capture and present here the reports of Tuesday’s two working group’s discussions on legislation, shoreline response and waste management and trans-boundary co-operation.

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SA set to maintain its IMO STCW Convention ‘Whitelist’ status: SAMSA

DSC_5249.JPGPretoria: 09 September 2019

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has once again given an assurance that South Africa will retain its status in the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) STCW Convention ‘Whitelist’.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting CEO. SAMSA

The assurance was given by SAMSA acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi while addressing a gathering of members of the South African Institute of Marine Engineers and Naval Architects (SAIMENA) in Cape Town on Friday afternoon.

He’d been invited to specifically come and address the organisation’s members on the status of the country regarding the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978 (STCW Convention) since the near fall-out earlier this year after close on two thirds of IMO Member States on the list reportedly faced removal.

The incident in April 2019 sparked fears and concerns among seafarers, shipping sector and related marine and maritime professionals across many countries, including South Africa as it reportedly risked among other things, a massive loss of jobs and likely manning challenges in the shipping transport sector.

This was averted after the IMO soon corrected the situation following to a meeting with members States. South Africa, one of 129 countries listed, had been on the IMO STCW Convention ‘Whitelist’ since 2001.

DSC_5252On Friday, for about half an hour during lunchtime, Mr Tilayi outlined the genesis of the challenge with regards South Africa and outlined steps that were being taken currently to ensure that the country meets its periodic review obligations to the IMO’s STCW Convention on time for the next submission due in 2020.

Throughout the process, Mr Tilayi said the maritime sector would be constantly updated and occasional involved directly for its contribution to matters such as reviews of legislation and related.

DSC_5253While about it, Mr Tilayi also touched on various other topics related, inclusive of the current repositioning of SAMSA as a central professional maritime administrator instrumental to the development of South Africa as maritime centre of excellence by 2030 in line with the country’s National Development Plan.

He also touched briefly on the country’s need for higher preparedness to exploit new investment opportunities being identified, similar to the burgeoning shipping bunkering services in Port Elizabeth (a.k.a Nelson Mandela Bay) on the southern east coast of South Africa.

For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks (27 minutes), click on the video below.

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South Africa’s leadership in fishers’ safety and security lauded: South East Asian countries

DSC_4428.JPGCape Town: 04 September 2019

Over five days, from 26-30 August 2019, about three dozen delegates from three South East Asian countries – Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand – rubbed shoulders and closely interacted with their South African counterparts in the Western Cape, exchanging notes on the implementation of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention 188.

On their departure from South Africa at the weekend, the delegates – among them senior government officials at ministerial and director level, as well as ILO officials, were more than impressed.

In their own words, captured in the following video interviews, not only did they learn much of what they hoped for about the implementation of the ILO’s C188, but they also felt that South Africa’s leadership in the regard, and partnership going forward, were crucial in the success of their own endeavours to ensure the implementation of the instrument in their own countries to ensure the safety and security of their fishing sectors’ labour.

DSC_4448.JPGILO officials, who accompanied the delegates both during a two day workshop in Cape Town on Monday and Tuesday, as well as during actual fishing vessels inspections in Cape Town, Saldanha Bay and St Helena Bay on the west coast of South Africa, led by South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) officials headed by Mr Selywn Bailey, were no less impressed.

DSC_4557.JPGSpoken to by this blog in the video interviews featured below,  (in no particular order) were

  1. Mr Basilio Araujo, Assistant Deputy Minister, Indonesia’s Office of the Deputy Coordinating Minister for Maritime Sovereignty and Resilience, Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs;
  2. Mr Indra Setiawan, Head of Facilities and Infrastructure Section at Indonesia’s  Directorate of Manpower Law Compliance, Directorate General of Inspection, Ministry of Manpower;
  3. Ms Mi Zhou, Project Manager of the ILO’s Indonesia Sea Fisheries Project;
  4. Ms Ma.Teresita S. Cucueco,  the Phillipines director of Bureau of Working Conditions in the Department of Labour and Employment.
  5. Mr Somboon Trisilanunt, deputy Director-General in Thailand’s Department of Labour Protection and Welfare (DLPW), Ministry of Labour and
  6. Rear-Admiral Apichai Sompolgrunk, Director -General at Thailand’s Office of Maritime Security Affairs, Naval Operations Dept., Royal Thai Navy/ Command Centre to Combat Illegal Fishing (CCCIF).

Take a listen:

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South Africa called upon to increase support for Indian Ocean rim countries’ port State controls.

DSC_2913Cape Town: 21 August 2019

South Africa has been called upon to step up and increase its regional support of Indian Ocean rim countries in order to improve the general standard and level of control measures in place to maintain safety and security of the regions’ oceans.

The call has been issued by the chairperson of the 20-member States Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU), Ms Beatrice Nyamoita in an interview on the sidelines of the organisation’s Port State Control Committee meeting currently taking place in Cape Town over five days since Monday this week.

DSC_3041IOMOU member States represented include Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Eritrea, France (La Reunion), India, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen.

Also present are delegates from other observer States and organisation with similar status as the IOMOU.

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Ms Beatrice Nyamoita, Chairperson of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding (IOMOU)

The IOMOU on Port State Control has its main function the establishment and maintenance of a harmonised system of port State Controls as envisaged in various instruments under the directive of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and similar such institutions. 

The port State control system, according to the IOMOU ‘aims to verify whether foreign flagged vessels calling at a port of a State comply with applicable international maritime conventions.’

There are no less than 12 of such IMO and related institutions’ conventions and protocols that inform the IOMOU’s port State control activities across the region.

In Cape Town on Tuesday, Ms Nyamoita said while the IOMOU block had made several achievements over the past two decades to both enrol as many Indian Ocean countries into the fold of the IOMOU, and to harmonise adoption of instruments for group of countries activities in promoting and maintaining safety and security of the region’s ocean area by preventing entry of substandard vessels into the region’s sea waters, sufficient capacity remained the major challenge.

She said because of the nature of the training programme required for inspection officers in member States, particularly the long duration and costs involved, many of the countries were unable to develop an adequate number of personnel sufficiently skilled to carry out necessary vessel inspections and surveys.

‘We have managed to ensure the development of standard procedures across the region intended to harmonise and establish uniformity of activity aimed at enhancing safety and securing of people and ships in our our respective ocean spaces. However, the greatest challenge currently facing IOMOU member States with regards port State control is capacity,” she said.

“Most of the member States cannot afford to train enough people. The training takes too long and governments budgets do not give priority to training people for port State control.

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She said currently, the IOMOU relied on support from other MOU organisations across the world, but this was just not enough for development of a cadre of skilled officials required by countries in the region in order to meet their obligations.

Ms Nyamoita said South Africa on the other hand, however, had certain advantages that would be beneficial to the organisation, such as vast experience in maritime matters, as well possessing infrastructure in terms of its relatively higher number of ports in which to conduct vessel inspection. The vast ports infrastructure could be beneficial to IOMOU country’s skills development, she said.

“I’d like to encourage the government of South Africa to endeavour to train the port State control officers and to effectively take control of port State control activities in the region.

“We request that South Africa actually support… because we know that the country has more experience in the region…to undertake the training of port State control officers for countries in the region that are unable to do so themselves. In so doing, this will greatly assist in harmonising the training and activities in the region,” she said.

For Ms Nyamoita’s full interview (9.18 minutes) click on the video below:

Meanwhile, IOMOU Secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra presented his organisational report to the meeting on Monday. His presentation (about 20 minutes) is captured in the video below.

The IOMOU five-days meeting’s agenda this week is looking at a whole range of issues among which is an analysis of CIC on MARPOL Annex VI as well as development of guidelines for MARPOL Annex IV and Annex V for inclusion into the region’s port State control manual; port state inspections carried out by the maritime authorities, short term training programmes and a lot more other issues including the organisation’s online information management system.

This blog will carry more news information about some of these issues as and when such information is shared. Also lined up are two interviews with the IOMOU Secretary, Mr Dilip Mehrotra who is due to retire, as well as Captain Thobile Gqapu of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA). 

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